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The Theme of Clothing in Shakespeare's Cymbeline - Essay Example

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The Theme of Clothing in Shakespeare’s Cymbeline Shakespeare used fashion and costuming in many subtle ways to illustrate the traits of many of his characters and to demonstrate the emotions, moods and inner thoughts of those characters. I believe that Shakespeare felt however that when a person’s outward appearance changes, the person remains the same at heart…
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The Theme of Clothing in Shakespeares Cymbeline
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Download file to see previous pages After putting on Posthumus’ clothes in a futile attempt to lure his wife, Cloten declares “How fit his garments serve me! Why should his mistress, who was made by him that made the tailor, not be fit to?” (4.1 1-4), he underlines the importance of one of Shakespeare’s primary themes in Cymbeline: clothing.Cloten’s continuous comparison of the tailor to a creator, most likely a rude joke about Posthumus, points to the complexity ingrained in Shakespeare’s portrayal of clothing, disguise, and costume. Out rightly, the demureness of the play is founded on several fronts. In some cases it can be found within the language used by the characters, bringing out the significance of clothing to symbolize status. In other cases, such as is the case with Imogen’s anger towards Clotenor Posthumus’s changing commitments on the battle front, a character’s dress outwardly displays the characters personalities and manipulates their actions. At points in the play, misleading masquerades move characters to rage and violence.Examples of this are Posthumus’s decision to have Imogen murdered and Cloten’s plan to rape Imogen, in other instances it allows them to see things more clearly as is the case with the battle episodes. The changing of clothes socially derogates characters and moves them towards improved self-awareness and self-fulfillment, most importantly, disguise appears as a not so shrouding cloak that, while concealing the identity of the characters, fails to mask their actual natures. Clothing and disguise function as a way for the characters to conceal and simultaneously reveal themselves to the audience. The frequency of language pertaining to garments is an obviousindication of the significance that clothing has in illustrating the themes of the play. Even before the introduction of disguises, Imogen ridicules Cloten with statements and metaphors relating to clothing. After Cloten intently seeks audience with Imogen by banging on her door, and consequently referring to himself as a gentleman, a Lady declares “That’s more/Than some whose tailors are as dear as yours Can justly boast of” (2.3 77-79). This part of the play illustrates the uselessness of Cloten’s character, this is quite apparent from the mockery he receives from the servant of Imogen’s court. By deriding his garb, the woman servant challenges Cloten’s ego and his hard held sense of entitlement. Cloten’s response is as scathing, and he chooses to further the clothing debate by drawing a comparison between dress and character, referring to Posthumus as “A hilding for a livery, a squire’s cloth/A pantler-not so eminent “ (1. 120-121).Cloten, who is widely seen and referred to as an idiot, shows he is not without wit and possesses some skill in rhetoric, if not virtue, by redirecting the servant woman’s debate and continuing to make a point on Posthumus’ apparent insufficiency for the future throne. Imogen, however, seems to close this debate by furthering the metaphorical comparison on garments to include an abstract example, she holds that Posthumus’ “Meanest garment…is dearer in my respect than all the hairs above thee” (2.3 133-135). In conclusion, Imogen alters the discussion of clothing to oust Cloten. At the end of the scene, it becomes apparent that ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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